Thursday, February 15, 2024

Source: DA's office mulling charges against tow truck driver in the death of longtime East Village resident Merle Ratner

Photo by EVG
 Reporting by Stacie Joy 

Charges are pending against the tow truck driver who struck and killed a longtime East Village resident on Feb. 5 while crossing 10th Street at Avenue C. 

NYPD sources told us that the incident remains under investigation, stating that the DA's office "is still going back and forth on it if they want to prosecute or not. The NYPD Highway District Collision Investigation Squad thinks they might make an arrest." 

When asked about the possible charges, the NYPD source stated, "That's what the ADA is going back and forth with. I don't think they are sure themselves, and that's probably why it's taking [so] long." 

According to police and media reports, Merle Ratner was crossing 10th Street at Avenue C with the light at 7 p.m. to visit a friend when she was struck and killed by the driver of the tow truck who was traveling south on Avenue C before turning left onto 10th Street. 

Police said Ratner, 67, died at the scene. 

According to police and media reports, the 59-year-old driver of the tow truck, owned by Timmy's Automotive in East Harlem, remained at the scene and was given a breathalyzer test. 

Meanwhile, the flatbed tow truck involved in the collision has been parked on Second Avenue near Sixth Street for the past week and a half. (Top photo.) Our police source was surprised to hear that the truck remained in this spot, located around the corner from the 9th Precinct on Fifth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

Journalist Liam Quigley pointed out the truck's rear license in an X post on Feb. 8. According to the How's My Driving NYC account, the plate has 86 violations, including 18 school zone speed violations and six red light camera violations — with over $9,700 in fines.
Ratner grew up in the Bronx and lived in the East Village starting in the 1980s. She was a co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign. She also worked as a labor rights organizer at the International Commission for Labor Rights ... and served on the board at the Laundry Workers Center, which organizes low-wage immigrant laundry and food service workers. 

Here's more from Ratner in an EVG interview with James Maher in 2017: 
My family has a history — my grandmother, when she came from Odessa, was the first woman business agent at the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, and my mother was a member of Local 1707 Day Care Workers. I have a picture in my house of my grandmother; it must have been in the 1920s, with a long skirt with a bustle, the very traditional thing that women wore, holding a picket sign with her friend that said, 'Don’t be a scab.'" 
Ngô Thanh Nhàn talked with The Village Sun about his wife of 40 years. 

"She loved life and was always thinking about ways to build a society that supports people, not profit," he said.


Anonymous said...

Merle Ratner believed in people.

She believed in social justice.

IMO she would want accountability and redemption.

Despite her tragic death, not sure that carceration is the solution.

pissed off citizen said...

86 violations and around 10k in fines and this driver / mobile business is still able to operate?!? WTF! Then they kill someone and the DA still can't decide to do something. Meanwhile the mayor wants budgets cuts across the board....

Anonymous said...

“According to the How's My Driving NYC account, the plate has 86 violations, including 18 school zone speed violations and six red light camera violations — with over $9,700 in fines.” It’s insane this person can still drive. Yes, charge them.

Anonymous said...

I witnessed this morning ( corner of 14th and 1st ave), a woman pushing a stroller with a baby in it, screaming.
A truck was turning.
She has the light to cross.
Fortunately nothing happened.
But the turning at intersections for vehicles while pedestrians have the crossing right, always freaked me out.
I am saddened for the lives that are taken this way....

Trixie said...

It's rather haunting to have the truck parked here in the neighborhood all this time. I wish I could cover it in flowers.

Anonymous said...

That intersection is extremely dangerous for pedestrians. Currently, both pedestrians and those traveling north/south on Ave C have green lights at the same time which is what I believe allowed for this collision to occur. I live on this corner and have experienced multiple close calls while making the same walk Merle did, where drivers assume they have the right of way to make that left turn because of the green light. I believe a separate turning lane / light needs to be installed to allow cars to make that left turn without the risk of injuring pedestrians.

XTC said...

I would guess that Police are looking into if the driver of the truck is the actually person with the multiple violations and if he actually saw her. That is, was she wearing dark clothing, for example. If he stayed at the scene and wasn't intoxicated it may not be a strong case.

Jose Garcia said...

There is a separate turning lane there now albeit not very well demarcated. Heading downtown on Avenue C and taking the left on 10th.

Anonymous said...

RE: 8:50 "18 school zone speed violations and six red light camera violations It’s insane this person can still drive."
School speed and red light violations are issued by camera to a vehicle, not a driver. Multiple drivers could be involved.

Anonymous said...

A vehicle that has more than $350 unpaid summons can be booted and impounded by the Sherriff. This vehicle was involved in a deadly collision, has $5000 unpaid summons, yet nobody in the 9th precinct thought of flagging it to the sheriff so that it will be removed from the street.

Anonymous said...

Total madness that vehicles can turn while pedestrians are crossing.

Anonymous said...

This should be fixed immediately. They should honor this lady and her husband with real change. 4 way spread bumps and an arrow in the light for pedestrians, or just stop any cars from driving down this street altogether. I was almost run over right there. A female driver apologized to me profusely and said I did not see you! The city also owes this ladies family real solutions and a promise that this cannot ever happen again.

yetanothercommenter said...

@11:24 AM While I'm personally for preventing all but emergency services traffic on this, or most, blocks it's never going to happen. Speed bumps would be a good idea or a double light with a vehicle red for pedestrians to cross. I'm skeptical either of those will be seriously considered.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't their speed bumps on 10th Street every block from Avenue A until Avenue D? Even just between A and B a few speed bumps would do a lot to calm down the traffic. These types of fixes shouldn't be that hard or expensive to study, test, implement.

Anonymous said...

Why is the operator of the truck when the accident occurred allowed to continue to drive and why isn't the owner of the business tied to the truck not have charges brought against?